Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

Mothers by the numbers

May 8, 2022

Mother’s Day today.

Estimates for May 2022

World population                     7.9 billion

World female population         3.92 billion

Number of mothers                  2.1 billion

Around 27% of the global population are mothers, (or one could say that about half of all the females in the world are mothers).


Fighting population decline – Not having children is not sustainable

January 22, 2022

Within 50 years population decline will prevail in most of the world except for some countries in Africa. Within 100 years population decline would have set in across the entire globe. The demographic reality is that the long-term decline in fertility levels cannot be reversed very quickly and the coming peaks and declines cannot be averted. However catastrophic population declines will surely be avoided by most countries. Some have already started taking mitigating actions. The optimistic view would be that population enhancing measures will increase fertility sufficiently so that populations will not drop to lower than about 70-80% of the peak levels reached during this century between 2010 and 2100. As an illustrative example, Japan reached its peak in 2010 when the population reached 128.6 million. The decline has started and population is now about 3 million less. The projections are for a population of around 90 million in 2060 and, without any mitigating actions, down to a catastrophic level of less than 60 million by 2100. China’s population is peaking this year (2021/22) and could halve within another 100 years. India’s population will peak in about 2050 though there are some indications that this may happen as early as 2040. Some countries in Africa will reach their peak towards the end of this century but by 2100 all countries will be in decline.

The question is no longer whether populations will decline, but how fast will they decline? The interconnected nature of our societies means that a too rapid decline could lead to a breakdown of the fabric of society. A resilient society might be able to cope with, say, a 30% decline in about 100 years (<0.3%/year). The projected Japanese decline of 50% over 90 years would be catastrophic. 

Some aspects of societal strains are already evident in Japan and parts of Europe. Public Services are gradually withdrawn from peripheral areas which, in turn, leads to people moving from remote areas towards urban conglomerations. The decline of schools, health services, clinics, public transport  and other services in remote, rural areas is already happening in Japan and parts of Europe. Remote areas are seeing depopulation as services decline or get more expensive. The increase of aged populations compared to working-age numbers is an additional stress factor for provision of services. 

Population decline is an existential threat far more difficult to handle than a population increase.

Mitigation measures focus on keeping society functioning despite a declining population. Increasing automation and the use of distributed artificial intelligence is a way of coping with a decline, but that does not change the demographic trend. Nevertheless, working from home, distance learning, the use of distributed diagnostic machines, and smart unmanned vehicles will all increase with the use of AI in smart devices. Even more automation in farming, industry and the provision of basic services can be expected. However, mitigation actions can only help in tolerating a population decline and cannot reverse the demographic trend. Immigration has been seen as a mitigation action. Populations only move from regions of lower to regions of higher economic development. Such immigration of people of child-bearing ages, usually brings an increase of fertility rates. However this increase disappears very quickly with the next generation and is only a short-term benefit. But increased immigration of working-age populations does provide short-term gains which can help to prevent the collapse of societal structures. 

The root problem, though, is the declining fertility rate and to have any chance of arresting the population decline will need actions to arrest and reverse the underlying fertility trend. Some possible actions are already being tried. It can be expected that we will see increasing attempts in the next 100 years to provide incentives for having children. It will be quite different from the last 100 years where the fear of population growth has led to an unhealthy emphasis on disincentives for having children and even incentives for terminating pregnancies. For a hundred years, the scare-mongers (such as The Club of Rome) have promoted the apocalyptic vision of exploding populations starving to death in a world unable to feed itself. The doom-sayers have hijacked the perception of virtue. Having many children has invited ridicule. Being a mother has been denigrated while being a childless “career-woman” has been glorified. The nuclear family has been maligned as being damaging to freedom and sustainability. But the bleak and cowardly narratives of population-explosion and peak-oil and peak-water and peak-food and peak-energy have all been false, malicious and insidious. The last 100 years have seen incentives for sterilisation and even forced sterilisations. Since the end of WW II, it has become, not just socially acceptable, but admirable, socially responsible and virtuous, not to have children. Abortion has become fashionable. From being a last-resort medical procedure to protect the life of the mother, abortion on demand and for convenience has become just another alternative to contraception. There are circles where having had an abortion is a badge of honour. There are around 60 million deaths every year and this will increase to about 120 million in 2100 as the world ages. There are around 115 million births per year and these will decline slowly through the rest of this century. In addition, according to the WHO,  there are an estimated 40-50 million abortions per year. This is incongruous in a world where a false “sustainability” has become a fashionable buzz-word. But it is economic development, not encouraged or forced sterilisations, which has reduced fertility rates. Not having children, it is being finally acknowledged, is not sustainable. 

Can public policy break the inexorable demographic trend and increase the fertility rate?

This will become the great challenge of the next 100 years. Financial incentives, often in the form of tax breaks, for having children are increasingly being introduced in many countries with low birth rates. These include Finland, Estonia, Italy, Japan, S Korea, Turkey, Iran and Australia among others. How successful they are remains to be seen. I suspect that financial incentives will not be enough. They will need to be provided together with strong social incentives to reverse the trend. Not having children cannot be a badge of honour. It is only when having children becomes a matter of social admiration that women will want to be mothers. It is only when having children becomes fashionable again that the declining trend can be reversed.

Chinese population could crash to half by 2100

December 13, 2021

I wonder how long it will take for the politically correct to acknowledge that it is population decline that is the  challenge and not population explosion. It was only about 10 -15 years ago that I realised that my perceptions of the existential threat posed by population explosion were largely the result of brain-washing by the politically correct.

But I note that the reality of population decline is beginning to enter mainstream journalism. The Lancet now recognises that there is a risk that Chinese population could halve by 2100.

Population increase will still be an issue in Africa for the next 100 years but it will decline even there. But there is little doubt that the colour of the world population is changing irreversibly.

The changing colours of the world’s population

The success of a species is ultimately dependent upon survival of populations. For the human species, population implosion is more of an existential threat than population explosion ever was.


The coming population implosion: Indian fertility now drops below replenishment level

November 25, 2021

It has been about 10 years since it dawned on me that the “population explosion crisis” was long since over and the challenge after 2100 would be the population implosion. Demographic trends become obvious slowly but the trends are inexorable and unavoidable. (But there are still people who keep talking about the defunct population explosion).

In India, the decline of population growth has continued and has now fallen below the replenishment level. The National Family Health Survey in India shows that the overall fertility rate in the country has now declined to 2.1.

Indian Express:

According to the survey, there are five states with TFR above 2: Bihar (3), Meghalaya (2.9), Uttar Pradesh (2.4), Jharkhand (2.3) and Manipur (2.2). Two states reported TFR at the same level as the national average: Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. Two states have a TFR of 1.6: West Bengal and Maharashtra. Six states have a TFR of 1.7: Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Tripura. Six more states have a TFR of 1.8: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Arunachal Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. And five states have a TFR of 1.9: Haryana, Assam, Gujarat, Uttarakhand and Mizoram.

The simple reality is that China’s population has already peaked and started reducing. The Indian population growth has been declining for some time and replenishment fertility level has now fallen below that needed for a stable population (in Europe this is about 2.1 and in India about 2.3 due to higher child mortality). In India population will peak around 2050. In Africa the peak will not be reached until about 2090. The challenges faced by societies to meet the needs of growing populations over the last 200 years are going to undergo a paradigm shift. From 2090 onwards global population will be declining, everywhere. Countries (Iran and China for example) already have incentives for having children. Incentives for having children will become the global norm in the 2100s. Professional continuity and maintaining knowhow will come increasingly under pressure. Skills will disappear as some cultural transmission of knowhow breaks down. The challenge in the 2100s will be the maintaining of services and the care of the elderly as populations decline.

Japan is already there.

India National Family Health Survey


New challenges as global population will start declining already in the 2060s

The alarmist population explosion meme bites the dust

Every EU country has a fertility rate below the replenishment level

Automation can mitigate for a population decline

Population implosion after 2100?

Other ktwop posts on demographics and the population implosion

One third of the world was born after 9/11

September 8, 2021

Demographic trivia

Tomorrow Not tomorrow, but in 3 days it will be twenty years since 9/11/2001 (11th of September 2001).

  • 33% of the global population (2.6 billion) is under 20 years old.
  • Only 8% (0.65 billion) of the global population was alive during the Second World War.
  • 35% of the world lived in a time without mobile phones.
  • The median age of the global population is 31 years.
  • 150 million (1.9%) are over the age of 80 and of these 600,000 people are over 100 years old.
  • Aging populations are strongly corelated with declining crime rates.
  • Since 1920, average global height has increased by about 9 cm.
  • Most people born today will see a global population decline in their lifetimes.
image: visualcapitalist

New challenges as global population will start declining already in the 2060s

January 24, 2021

The new challenge for the 22nd century, which will override almost all the perceived challenges and existential threats of today, will be population decline. How our intricately connected and interdependent world for food production, manufacturing, financial services, health services, education and leisure will be able to cope with a declining population, a declining work force and an increasing proportion of population (<20, >70) being non-productive, will be the dominating challenge faced by humanity. The pressure on some resources will clearly decrease. The further development and spread of automation will become an absolute must. The increasing use of “smart” contraptions with some embedded AI and the increasing interconnections between smart devices will be the primary means of compensating for the decline in humans available. Paradoxically, increasing automation and the increasing interconnections between our smart devices will probably lead to a decline in the interdependence of humans on each other. Each individual will be more dependent upon interconnected devices but less dependent upon other humans. Human independence – from other humans – could reach levels not seen since before the industrial revolution, but by choice rather than enforced.

The UN medium forecast based on the continuing decline in world fertility has the world reaching peak population at just over 11 billion just before 2100. But fertility rates are declining faster than the medium forecast.

Global fertility is falling faster than any prediction. It has reached critical levels in Japan and parts of Eastern Europe. Iran is providing incentives for increasing birth rates. In most of the EU countries it is only immigration and its consequence on fertility which is delaying the inevitable decline in fertility rates. The increased fertility rates among immigrant communities declines within a generation to match the “indigenous” rates. The Chinese population is already in decline. The Indian population will peak before 2050 rather than around 2070. Even Nigeria where population was expected to peak after 2100 will now reach its maximum probably by 2090, or even earlier.

New studies (The Lancet, July 14, 2020, DOI: ) now put the global population reaching a peak of 9.7 billion by 2064 and declining to 8.8 billion by 2100.

The work force decline has already started in China. In India it will start declining by 2050. It has become blindingly apparent during the corona virus pandemic that it is the work force which is both the “blood” which circulates and keeps our societies alive, and it is the glue which holds our societies together. It is in compensating for these human functions that automation and “smart” devices with some AI will come increasingly into play. A natural consequence is that having smarter devices leads to a fundamental change in the classic centralised- distributed paradigm. More smarts locally leads to more and narrower specialisation centrally.

I see the growing independence of individuals as inevitable with a declining human population together with smarter devices serving us. Smarter diagnostics and basic, automated health care locally is then complemented by fewer, very specialised central hospitals. The catchment area has to increase as the specialisations become narrower. (As is already happening in Scandinavia). Increasing on-line learning (local) is then complemented by specialised learning at the – fewer – centres. (As is already happening in Japan). Manufacturing (including food production and even farming) is increasingly automated.

In the 22nd and 23rd centuries there will not be a shortage of resources (food or water or energy), and there will be no shortage of growth as smart machines take over the boring and the mundane jobs, and there will be no decline in human ingenuity and creativity. But there may be a shortage of human companionship.

The alarmist population explosion meme bites the dust

July 15, 2020

Alarmist memes eventually die as the world stubbornly refuses to end. The impending catastrophe due to a population explosion has been a popular doomsday scenario pushed by the politically sanctimonious for over 40 years. However, the drop in fertility rates and the coming population implosion has been obvious for years. But it has been politically incorrect to say such a thing.

(See this for example from 2016 Population implosion has started).

The BBC is one of the leaders in pushing politically correct and alarmist themes. But the worm is turning.

Fertility rate: ‘Jaw-dropping’ global crash in children being born

The world is ill-prepared for the global crash in children being born which is set to have a “jaw-dropping” impact on societies, say researchers. Falling fertility rates mean nearly every country could have shrinking populations by the end of the century. And 23 nations – including Spain and Japan – are expected to see their populations halve by 2100. Countries will also age dramatically, with as many people turning 80 as there are being born.

The fertility rate – the average number of children a woman gives birth to – is falling. If the number falls below approximately 2.1, then the size of the population starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of 4.7 children in their lifetime. Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to 2.4 in 2017 – and their studypublished in the Lancet, projects it will fall below 1.7 by 2100.

As a result, the researchers expect the number of people on the planet to peak at 9.7 billion around 2064, before falling down to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. “That’s a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline,” researcher Prof Christopher Murray told the BBC. “I think it’s incredibly hard to think this through and recognise how big a thing this is; it’s extraordinary, we’ll have to reorganise societies.”



Middle class demographics will cause Indian stock market capitalisation to grow by a factor of 20 till 2050

April 4, 2019

The underlying Indian stock market growth is fueled by a burgeoning middle class with a voracious appetite for owning stocks.

The BSE Sensex is India¨s primary stock index. The Bombay Stock Market has been going for some 140 years (formed 1875) but the Sensex Index of 30 shares was established in 1986 and set its reference value of 100 on a base date chosen to be 1st April 1979.  It is now 40 years since the base date and the index stands at over 39,000. For stock investors this represents an annual rate of growth over the 40 years of over 17%.

Rather than a measure of – except indirectly – of the economy or industrialisation, I see the BSE Sensex as primarily a measure of the appetite for investing in stocks. As such, it is a phenomenon of, and by, and for, the “middle class”. Much of the growth of the index is thus due to new owners of stocks entering the market.

It is thought that India has around 25 million owners of stocks. There are many definitions of the “middle-class”. I find defining the middle-class by the number of households with a disposable, annual income of over $10,000 is probably the best indicator of the number of stock investors. By this measure the number of stock investors is about half the number of such households. Currently – 2019 – the number of such households is about 50 million and covers 120 – 150 million of the total population of 1,300 million.

The Indian population will probably reach around 1,500 million and start declining after 2050. It can be expected that the growth of the stock-owning middle-class will keep increasing till then and even for a decade or two after population decline begins. A not-unreasonable projection would be that the underlying growth of the stock index will follow the appetite for owning stocks.

The total number of shares available, the number of investors available and the price of the shares are inextricably linked with the state of the economy. An increasing appetite for a fixed number of available shares will follow the number of investors available. This would increase both share price and market capitalisation. However the number of shares available will, given even a modest growth in the economy, probably track the growth in total population.  However, the underlying growth over the next 30 years is unlikely to reach the heights of the last 40 years. A saturation law applies and my expectation would be a growth in the index of between 2 and 3 times the current value. Since the number of investors would have grown by a factor of 8 this implies that the total capitalisation of Indian companies on the stock market could be closer to 20 times higher than now.


Every EU country has a fertility rate below the replenishment level

March 14, 2019

Any group of people will eventually become extinct if its fertility rate stays below the replenishment level (2.1 births per woman).  The EU faces the parallel dilemmas of how to

  1. reconcile decreasing fertility rates with any growth strategy
  2. avoiding cultural fragmentation while increasing “non-European” immigration
  3. pay for pensions and the care of the ageing population with a declining “native-born” working population

Eurostat has released its “Birth and Fertility” statistics.

5.075 million babies were born in the EU in 2017, down from 5.148 million in 2016. The total fertility rate reduced to 1.59 births per woman, also down from 1.60 the year before. No country came anywhere near the 2.1 births per woman needed to replenish any population.

France had the highest fertility rate at 1.90 births per woman, followed by Sweden (1.78), Ireland (1.77), Denmark (1.75), and the United Kingdom (1.74). The lowest fertility rates were in Malta (1.26), Spain (1.31), Italy and Cyprus (both 1.32), Greece (1.35), Portugal (1.38), and Luxembourg (1.39).

The average age of first-time mothers is also increasing, at 29.1 compared to 29.0 years in 2016.

The politically correct belief in the EU is that getting a large number of migrants from Africa will boost the work-force and allow pensions and healthcare for the elderly to be maintained. However this has been shown to be a little naive. Many new downsides have been introduced by the new migrants since they have been – relatively – unschooled, unskilled, reluctant to integrate and often requiring a much greater degree of state support, and for a much longer time, than the politicians had hoped for. Many migrants have been slower to enter the work-place than hoped. New stresses are being introduced by the reluctance (or the inability) of the migrants to adapt.

Using immigration alone as an alternative to having children can never work. It only ensures the extinction of the “native population”. Having fewer children in all cases will always lead to the native population becoming extinct. Having fewer children and simultaneously having more immigration, only means that the native born population is swamped and suppressed before becoming extinct. EU politicians are often so enamoured of their pet theories that they are in denial about reality. Immigration can help to provide a demographic breathing space for a limited period and provided the number of migrants can be assimilated. But a permanent, continuous stream of immigration to keep a country alive, while the native population declines, is absurd.

The simple demographic reality (which a few of the Eastern European countries have started to realise) is that any population – if it wants to survive – needs to replenish its children.

The Hungarians have been criticised by the politically correct part of the EU for introducing incentives for having children. This criticism is particularly short-sighted (if not plain stupid). The EU needs fertility rates to increase and soon. Incentives for having children are inevitable and will become standard in almost every country.


Abortion now a significant demographic parameter

January 15, 2019

During 2018, it is estimated that around 140 million babies were born and that around 60 million people died. The global population had reached 7.7 billion at the end of 2018.

In addition, around 41 million legal abortions were carried out in 2018. There may also be a significant number of illegal or unreported abortions so that the total number may be around 50 million.

Global fertility rates are declining inexorably. The number of babies born will be reducing over the next 100 years (with the biggest declines expected in Africa). The crude death rate is a balance between two trends; first the decline due to improving health care (and longevity) and second the increase due to an increasing population of the aged. By around 2090 deaths will exceed births and by 2100 the world population will be in decline.

Abortions are not recorded in either birth or death statistics. But what is not in doubt is that the actual number of babies born is almost 30% lower because of abortions. If abortions were included in both birth and death statistics the natural population increase (births minus deaths) would remain unchanged (190m-110m instead of 140m-60m). However, abortions would then be the single highest cause of death. The next highest cause of death would then be coronary artery disease (around 10m).

The long term, global, fertility and morbidity trends are not affected by the number of abortions. Even if no abortions took place, world population would still stabilise and then decline but this would be delayed by about 40 years (stabilisation and decline in 2130 instead of about 2090).

That abortion is now a significant demographic parameter is self-evident.

The morality or rightness of carrying out abortions is a different matter and primarily for women to decide on. The human species is the only one which has the ability to, and does, carry out intentional abortions. That women should be assisted to carry out abortions to preserve their health or for other necessary medical reasons (physical or mental) seems obvious.

I am not so sure that assisting abortions for the convenience of the mother or for covering up carelessness is equally justified. Or that 41 million legal abortions is a number to celebrate or to be particularly proud of.


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